With the focus on The Ellen DeGeneres Show going off the air in May 2022 because of the alleged poor treatment of employees, it's easy to forget that Ellen DeGeneres was once a judge on American Idol. She only appeared on Idol in season 9, and at the time, she had a good reputation in Hollywood as a funny and warm comedian.
While there were reports of DeGeneres being rude during commercials, she seemed to enjoy being a talk show host and interacting with others. However, her American Idol experience wasn't that great. Here's why the star didn't like being booed on the competition series.
When Ellen DeGeneres was a judge on American Idol's ninth season, she was booed, and she definitely wasn't a fan of this experience.
In 2010, DeGeneres talked about the American Idol audience booing her. She didn't sound happy about it at all and said:
"That's lovely. That sounds nice. I love applause. I love this job. You know, I have a new job now where they boo me. Just freely boo me. It's a horrible thing that you get booed..."
DeGeneres continued, "Getting booed does not feel good." She shared that once, when she was hosting The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she was booed during an episode that aired during her 12 Days Of Giveaways. When she mentioned that contestants would be gifted a KitchenAid mixer, she got booed. DeGeneres said "I couldn't believe it... I kept all their 12 days. I didn't give it to them that day."
While the star kept her sense of humor and joked that she made money from the gifts on eBay, she didn't sound as thrilled about getting booed on American Idol. It doesn't seem like she was prepared for it. When she talked about the experience on her own show, she was honest about how terrible it felt to feel like the audience wasn't happy with her. She didn't go into details about what exactly she did that upset people, though.
Some celebrity judges on American Idol (according to People):
Although Ellen DeGeneres seemed taken aback that she was booed when she was an American Idol judge, this can sometimes be par for the course. Of course, it doesn't seem like a pleasant experience, but it does happen. Several judges have been booed from time to time. This usually happens when the judges do or say something that the audience disagrees with.
According to The New York Post, Katy Perry asked a contestant, Nutsa, to wear something other than glitter in the spring of 2023. The audience didn't seem to like this comment and they booed Perry.
The Sun also reported that the audience booed Luke Bryan in 2023. When he filmed a video that featured himself, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie and said that it was very warm in the studio, those watching booed.
Ellen DeGeneres decided to leave American Idol after she was a judge for only one year. According to People, she explained in an official statement that while she is a fan of the competition series, it was tricky to be in this position. She explained, "I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge and sometimes hurt their feelings."
She also said, "This didn't feel like the right fit for me."
It makes sense that sometimes, celebrities say yes to opportunities that seem like they will be great. But then, when reality sinks in and they start doing the job, they realize that it's not for them. That seems to be what happened here.
When DeGeneres talked about American Idol on The Howard Stern Show, she shared more about her feelings. It sounds like she regrets saying yes to the career opportunity. According to Today.com, the star said:
"That's one of the worst decisions I've made."
She continued to Stern, "As a fan of the shows, it doesn't matter that I sing or I know anything about pitch … I'm like everybody else at home, so I thought I'm gonna represent those people at home that have opinions. But then I just thought, like Howard says, I can't break this person's heart. Let somebody else do that."
DeGeneres was also a judge on American Idol for a short time in season 7, but she didn't seem to say anything negative about that experience. It's possible that it was better since it was very brief.
Ellen DeGeneres' hosting jobs:
38th and 39th Grammy Awards (1996, 1997)
It sounds like Ellen DeGeneres was really excited to be an American Idol judge. But as she explained, the reality of the job was different from what she expected. While she didn't say that she left because she was booed, it doesn't seem like she enjoyed this at all.
In 2009, before she began, DeGeneres talked about Idol with Ryan Seacrest and shared her thoughts about the upcoming season. According to The Los Angeles Times, she said that she would be filming The Ellen DeGeneres Show at different times in order to accommodate her new Idol routine. She also explained that she didn't expect to be hired. It seems that she said yes because she loves watching Idol.
The star also said, "I'm just a fan like everyone else. The people choose. Ultimately, it comes down to them, not some executive in the music industry. I hope to be that voice."
While she didn't seem to enjoy her time on American Idol, Ellen DeGeneres continued to host her own talk show until 2022.